Original Link: http://www.anandtech.com/show/6802/capsule-review-roccats-kone-xtd-and-kone-pure-gaming-mice
Capsule Review: ROCCAT's Kone XTD and Kone Pure Gaming Miceby Dustin Sklavos on February 27, 2013 1:01 AM EST
Introducing the ROCCAT Kone XTD and Kone Pure
The "dirty" secret of PC peripherals is that the word "gaming" can often mean any combination of two things: robust quality and gaudy design. Most mechanical keyboards tend to be geared towards gamers, and likewise, most high quality mice tend to be pointed in the same direction. It's not unusual for digital illustrators to use one of the single-hand gaming keyboards for Photoshop shortcuts, and a good mechanical keyboard like the Corsair Vengeance K90 pretty much sells itself the instant a regular user feels the keys.
Yet sometimes these peripherals don't feel like they were actually designed with human hands in mind. I've tested a few gaming mice that were definitely reasonably comfortable, but still clung resolutely to my aging Logitech G500. ROCCAT sent me two gaming mice to test, though, and I walked away seriously impressed. With the Kone XTD and Kone Pure, ROCCAT has two mice that are surprisingly comfortable and incredibly full-featured. Have I finally found a reason to retire my G500, and should you be looking for these?
I know I'm not the only person who's picky about the peripherals they use. Once you know what quality feels like, it can be very difficult to just go back to a run of the mill keyboard or mouse (let alone monitor.) And sometimes, when you use one, it can just click in your mind: "this feels absolutely perfect for me." That was the moment I had with the Corsair Vengeance K90, and before that, the Logitech G500. It was the same confusing moment I had when I began to settle in with the Kone XTD and its little brother, the Kone Pure.
Neither of these are ambidextrous mice. I'm right-handed, but most of my good friends are southpaws, and I kind of feel for them in that they've had to adapt to a world that hates left-handed people. Still, one of them has been using a tired old basic Logitech mouse for some time now, and when I handed her the ROCCAT Kone Pure, she was pleasantly surprised.
The reason for that is because the grip of the Kone is designed to fit snugly in a broad range of hands, and importantly, ROCCAT dodges a big problem that I've found a lot of gaming mice have: poor texture. The soft touch plastic treatment that Razer and some other peripheral manufacturers tend to use doesn't breathe at all, and I've found their mice to cause my hand to sweat and perspire much worse than other mice. In comparison, the treatment on the surfaces of the Kone mice is more conservative. The glossy plastic that houses the LED stripes on the Kone XTD will undoubtedly be a sweat magnet, but the majority of the surface is quite comfortable.
Both mice are solidly built, though. They're comfortable in the hand, and the buttons are where you'd want them (with the exception of the button above the mouse wheel on the XTD, though I suspect that's very deliberately out of the way.)
While the XTD and Pure are clearly related, the Pure is the cut down version. Both feature a rainbow of configurable LED lighting (typically tied to the active mouse profile), along with DPI adjustment buttons below the wheel and back and forward buttons on the left side, beneath the thumb. They also both feature a laser sensor rated for 8200 dpi. Where they diverge is in the additions to the XTD: a button above the mouse wheel, left and right tilt on the mouse wheel, and customizable weight. Disappointingly, the door on the XTD for the weights is a little bit loose.
ROCCAT's Kone Software
Both of these mice, the ROCCAT Kone XTD and the Kone Pure, feature half a megabyte of on-board memory along with a dedicated 32-bit processor. It's kind of crazy when you think about it, given that these are mice, but the key to unlocking them really is in ROCCAT's software. Unfortunately, that software does have a slight learning curve. The common problem of having a lot of features is that it can be overwhelming, and peripheral designers have almost never gotten the software right.
Frustratingly, ROCCAT doesn't have a unified software package for all of its peripherals. That means you'll need to download and install different drivers for different peripherals. This is kind of silly when you realize just how much is duplicated between the suites; the XTD's software suite was only slightly different from the Pure's. Note that both mice can store up to five different profiles, and these profiles are extremely detailed.
The first page of the Kone software contains extremely detailed control for all of the mouse motion and allows for up to five dpi settings per profile. It's self-explanatory, but it's still very busy, and I've honestly never had a great need for this much detail. Your mileage may vary, though.
In my opinion, the Button Assignment page is practically the Kone's ace in the hole. These "shift" functions are becoming increasingly common, and the Kone adds a little to its learning curve by configuring the typical "back" button to be a shift button. Hold the shift, and the "Easy-Shift" profile is available. I love that ROCCAT treats virtually every function of the mouse like a button, though. Just about every function you could want can be configured, though, including media keys, DPI shift for aiming, and macros. If anything I wish they'd found a way to include another button to use as the "Easy-Shift," one that doesn't basically replace the back button.
The remaining pages include even more detailed and precise pointer control functionality, color configuration, and ROCCAT even has a mouse-related achievement system. This last one could probably be done without in favor of simplifying the software some. It's not in the way, necessarily, but it's kind of silly.
You can also use the software to update the firmware of the mice, and configure the software's voice. Whenever you switch profiles, a gravelly voice says "Profile Up" or "Profile Down." He thunders and is actually a little off-putting, but you can turn disable him.
ROCCAT's Kone XTD and Kone Pure in Practice
The software for ROCCAT's Kone mice is almost frighteningly complete and even daunting to use, but how do the mice handle once configuration is done and you're ready to go? Do you even have to configure them to get mileage out of them in the first place?
As it turns out, not really. I found that the default settings for the mice were surprisingly good. The default sensitivity setting of 800 dpi is definitely sluggish, but the next step up at 1600 dpi is just about perfect. I'll never be a twitch gamer but it's nice to know there's an almost comedic amount of headroom beyond 1600 dpi. Users are liable to be confused by the back button being used for "Easy-Shift" instead, but that's a minor grievance.
As day to day mice, the Kone XTD and Kone Pure are both very comfortable and easy to use. While peripherals are undoubtedly very subjective, I found that the grips of both mice fit my hands securely, and that the buttons actuated with the right amount of force and in the right places. Contrast this with Thermaltake's Level 10 M, which for all its adjustability still demanded a larger paw and a different grip. I've heard other people absolutely enamored by the Level 10 M, by the way, so if you enjoyed the grip of that mouse the Kone may feel a bit small or may not suit your mousing style.
The slightly smaller body of the Kone Pure did prove to be a little problematic, though. While the overall grip feels slightly better due to the lack of glossy stripes, the the Pure is lower to the mouse pad, and I found my pinky routinely brushing the pad. I have fairly small hands to begin with, so I wonder if the Pure might not be just a touch too small for some users. The XTD, on the other hand, fit perfectly.
There isn't much to say as far as gaming is concerned. I fired up F3AR (which I still consider to be grossly underrated) for a test drive and found the default 1600 dpi sensitivity to be ever so slightly too high, but still well within the realm of playability and easy enough to adjust to. The reality is that with the way different games handle any mouse you're probably going to have to make some adjustments, though the spectrum isn't quite as wide as it used to be.
Conclusion: Fantastic Mice, But Expensive
ROCCAT's Kone mice were incredibly pleasant surprises. Usually doing these peripheral reviews is just interesting for me because I get to see what other vendors are producing before going back to my Logitech G500, but having had time to play with the Kone XTD has left me questioning whether or not I want to make the jump. I mean hey, the Kone XTD's lighting could match the K90. That means something, right?
As far as the mice themselves go, they're mostly bulletproof. The texture used for the grips is soft without causing your hands to get too clammy over time, the lighting is attractive, the grips themselves are very comfortable, the software has a tremendous amount of functionality, and as a whole they're both exceptionally full-featured. While I feel like the Kone Pure is just a little bit too low, and I do wish they'd managed to find some other way to incorporate the "Easy-Shift" functionality, these are small gripes in the scheme of things.
The Kone XTD is definitely the mouse of choice out of the lot, but boy will you pay dearly for it. The XTD is a punishing $89.99 on NewEgg, putting it in the price range of a lot of esoteric (and ergonomic) mouse designs. That makes it kind of a hard sell, when other mice (including some popular Razer kit) are available for less, but it might still be worth the investment. This mouse does a hell of a lot, and it feels good in the hand. A good mouse is, like a good keyboard or a good monitor, often worth investing in.
At a less astronomical but still pricey $69.99, the Pure is at least a more affordable alternative. It's true that you lose the adjustable weight, extra button, and mouse wheel tilt, but all the functionality is still there in the software. Given the choice between the two I think I'd fork out the extra Jackson for the XTD, but your mileage may vary. The Pure's slightly lower profile may even be more suitable for some users.
Of all the mice I've reviewed so far, I have to say the ROCCAT Kone XTD and Pure are among my favorites. Reviews on NewEgg will tell you that settings sometimes take a long time to apply (approximately 20 seconds), and that's true...within the software. It's a minor nuisance and I hope they fix it, but no product is absolutely perfect. The XTD and Pure do just about everything else right, and while the software itself is tremendously busy and can seem difficult to use, it's definitely powerful and wonderfully complete.
As with any peripherals, your mileage may vary, but I definitely think the ROCCAT Kone XTD and Pure are worth considering. ROCCAT has produced two exceptional peripherals here, worthy of a Bronze Editor's Choice, and I look forward to getting more of their hardware in for testing.